6 Better Than Coffee Study Drinks

By Megan Weyrauch on September 5, 2013

This article is brought to you by Kaplan, the leader in test preparation for over 90 standardized tests including the GRE, GMAT, LSAT and MCAT. To learn more about Kaplan’s Test Prep offerings, click here.

“I want a large Americano with two extra shots of espresso.”

I stare listlessly back at this customer, letting him know he just requested for his drink to contain twice the normal contained amount of espresso.

“Oh,” he adds, “better make it three extra shots then.”

As a barista, I encounter students from early morning until midnight who need some form of caffeine to help them get through just a few more hours of studying. I am not kidding when I say I have people order extra shots of espresso or larger sizes for that extra kick. The customer I described above wanted his large Americano to have three extra shots of espresso, making the drink contain not the normal four shots, but seven. This type of caffeine consumption cannot be good for you.

But I see it all the time.

I, too, am guilty. I drink coffee like it’s my job (see what I did there?) because it gives me that jolt of energy I need to stay up until 2:30 a.m. and get up at 6 a.m. for class. I love the sound of coffee brewing in the morning and the way the delectable aroma creeps through my apartment, filling my nostrils with hints of hazelnut and cinnamon. Coffee is by far one of my favorite beverages and my go-to study drink for those long night study sessions and paper-writing sessions.

However, coffee lover as I profess to be, I also have to admit to the negative effects of coffee drinks. While consuming a small amount of caffeine daily is not too harmful, drinking a ton of it, like our seven-shots-of-espresso friend, can prove dangerous. Drinking four or more cups of coffee a day can lead to a physical dependence on the stuff, as caffeine is highly addictive. In addition, while caffeine may provide that quick boost of energy you need, it may keep you awake longer than you intended, leading to fatigue for the next day. The slight mood elevation you receive from caffeine eventually fades when you crash and feel just as tired as before, causing you to drink more caffeine.

Sound like a vicious cycle? Here are six healthier study drink options. Avoid possible health risks and stay energized longer with the following drinks.

1. Good, old-fashioned water.

Students normally grab coffee in order to stay awake longer, battling their droopy eyelids to finish assignments. However, because being dehydrated leads to fatigue, water is one of the best beverages to consume while studying. It is also the healthiest way to go in terms of what to drink. According to this article from the website webmd.com, there are at least six benefits to water. Water:

  • Helps maintain your balance of bodily fluids
  • Can help control calories
  • Energizes your muscles
  • Helps your skin to look good
  • Keeps your kidneys healthy
  • Helps you maintain normal bowel function

Water is a great choice for studying; you will feel not only hydrated but will avoid the caffeine crash that comes along with drinking too much coffee. Battle fatigue with water and you’ll have enough energy to finish your studying and go to sleep when you need to—no more caffeine keeping you up when you’re ready to hit the hay.

2. Milk

Your brain uses three basic neurotransmitters to help supply it with the right chemicals to keep it going: acetylcholine, dopamine and serotonin. According to this article, milk is rich in acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter that excites your neurons and helps to improve your memory. Reaching for a glass of milk will also provide you with the following health benefits:

  • Calcium, which protects the body from major chronic ailments
  • Healthy bones and teeth
  • Skin care
  • Vitamins A and B
  • Potassium, magnesium and protein and
  • Carbohydrates for energy
  • Rehydration

Drink milk while studying instead of coffee and you’ll start reaping the benefits of a beverage that does a lot for your body. You can get more energy calories from whole milk, but choose low-fat milk for a healthier option.

3. Fruit and vegetable juices

In addition to milk, fruit juice can help your memory and give you some energy for studying. Fruit juice “can boost your energy quickly because it is high-glycemic, which means that its carbohydrates enter your bloodstream shortly after you drink it.” Fruit and vegetable juices can give you the nutrients and antioxidants your brain needs to function properly. Not only will you get the benefits of these nutrients but you are ensuring your daily intake of fruits and vegetables by drinking these juices.

However, I am not talking about the super sugary fruit or vegetable juices you find in the supermarket today. Check your nutrition labels to watch out for juices that are very high in sugar content such as drinks that contain high fructose corn syrup; look for natural juices or juices made with 100 percent fruit juice to get natural energy or these juices prove no better than coffee. In addition, these juices will keep you hydrated to beat that fatigue problem.

4. Smoothies

Smoothies can be a healthier study drink option as well. Be warned however–similar to fruit juices rich with sugars, smoothies can also easily become unhealthy if you aren’t careful. Make your own smoothies at home to ensure you know what ingredients you are putting into your body. Making fruit smoothies with real fruits will give you natural energy. According to this article, adding berries, bananas or peaches can increase your energy, dietary fiber and potassium. A little bit of peanut butter can give you some energy due to its dietary fiber, fat and protein.

You will get the nutrients and antioxidants from the fruits or vegetables you add to your smoothie, and can get some protein and carbs (energy!) by adding milk or yogurt. Be wary of smoothie vendors and ask about the ingredients in their smoothies before you agree to purchasing one; you could be ingesting a ton of sugar or calories if you aren’t careful!

5. Green tea

There is a great debate about whether coffee or tea is better for you. According to wisegeek.org, though tea also contains some caffeine, it has nutritional benefits that coffee lacks. Different types of tea come with different health benefits. Green tea is considered the healthiest variety, according to wisegeek.org. Research indicates that this tea:

  • can help prevent cancer
  • fight plaque on teeth
  • lower cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure

In addition, tea has a smaller amount of caffeine than coffee. With coffee, your body absorbs and processes the large amount of caffeine quickly, resulting in the famous “crash.” However, because tea has lower amounts of caffeine, this “crash” is prevented when the small amount caffeine is absorbed into the bloodstream at a slower pace.

6. Egg yolk and carrot juice*, and honey and bee pollen drink

If you’re looking for something more interesting, I read on one webpage that beating an egg yolk into a glass of carrot juice is a great way to get some energy. You’ll receive the nourishing and cleansing benefits to carrot juice as well as an energy boost. The yolk of an egg will stimulate your adrenal glands when you’re exhausted, according to this same site.  This same website also suggests a honey and bee pollen drink—mix bee pollen powder and honey into some warm water for a natural energy boost. The honey gives the natural energy boost and also aids in digestion.

Next time you decide to pull an all-nighter, reach for one of these healthier alternatives to coffee; you will feel energized longer, reap the benefits of nutrients and antioxidants and avoid the caffeine crash that causes even more fatigue.

*If anyone tries this, please let me know. I would love to hear about the reactions of fellow students to you cracking open an egg in the library and sipping it down with some carrot juice.

Are you preparing for a big test? Considering taking the GRE, GMAT, LSAT, or MCAT? Kaplan can help, click here to find out about their test prep packages!

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